A light in the dark

The recent stabbing attacks in Israel have all been so horrific, but this one stands out. A 13 year old on his bike. Where I live, if you stay away from the traffic, nothing could be more prosaic. Stabbed by two boys, one his age, one a little older.

Here is some light. We all know how amazing Hatzolah/Magen David Adom is. Here’s a new one. A Hatzolah member picking his child up from a playdate while off duty stopped to answer a question from someone in the family– a, if Heaven forbid this happens, how do we work around xyz already existing issue?– question. Of course they would. It’s just another way for them to preempt a crisis and potentially save a life.

But still– look at it deeper. Maybe you just had to be there to appreciate the encouraging, kind tone that was used. The willingness to stay however long the question took. The way his child stood waiting patiently the entire time. The fact that we’re a nation where something like this isn’t breaking news… just a part of life. So normal it’s exceptional.

Wishing you all good health and protection to all the residents of Israel.

Memories of London

Reading someone’s article brought back fond memories of my family’s’ trips to London, England. Specifically, what I’m thinking about now are the times we were in a Tube (Subway, properly known as the London Underground) station with a long curving staircase down from one platform to another when we needed to change trains. Often, when my father would pick up one end of the stroller to carry it down, some random stranger would rush to help him so that he didn’t have to do it alone, or enlist one of his older children (we were pretty strong, having done it before, but being short back then it really was a help.) Said person would help, against my father’s protests, the entire way down and sometimes, offer to help us the rest of the way. It’s happened more than once, and it makes me smile.

Sopping smile

You know how they say ‘If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all?’ I was having a day like that today. It’s always hard to get back into the grind of things after being away for a while… and… yeah.

Sometimes, some people are just there at the right time.

Though I dislike chatting at work (pre-schoolers have this inner radar for when the worst time to cause trouble and get away with it would be,) my co-counselors were more than handling everything and it seemed like a matter of mental pikuach nefesh. So when a good friend kindly and genuinely asked what was wrong, I spilled it all out.

I think what she said was the perfect answer– sympathy, a way of getting past the problem, and practical advice for if it didn’t get better. Then she finished with, “I’d give you a hug but I’m sopping wet.” (Never give your campers water unless you want a shower. You have been warned.) I told her that that wasn’t a problem.

Maybe to some it might seem like this isn’t such a big deal. I recognize that with my smaller social circle, this might be a less frequent thing for me than for some. Maybe I just have less earthshaking problems. (Nah.) But even if you get this kind of warm friendship every time you stub a toe, or sneeze, appreciate it. Not just because things like these can be here today and gone tomorrow, but just because they’re here now. Not just because you might not appreciate what you have, but because you can thank G-d for what you have to appreciate.

 

Impact

A week or two ago, I was walking through the neighborhood when two little girls passed by on bikes. The second fell off about three feet past me. Concerned, especially since she might have fallen swerving past me (though I was nowhere close), I went back to see if she was ok.

Her sister told me that she was fine, and the girl sprang to her feet. All was well, but as left, I mentioned that I knew someone who even with a helmet, nearly smashed his skull open riding a bike. Not the most encouraging or forceful message, and I wasn’t surprised when they just walked on. I wished I could have done a better job.

Or could I have? Today, when walking along a nearby route, I saw two girls biking down a hill, with helmets. And I’m 95% sure they were the same people.

Yom Ha’Zikaron

We just watched a video of the funeral of one of the soldiers who was killed this summer during the war. One soldier. One soldier, a huge void in the world. And there are sixty six more. And all the civilians. And the people who’ve died to terror attacks, unspeakable tragedies that should never have happened.

If G-d allowed it to happen, then it must be good. Why does it hurt so much?

For me, it’s not just human pain, but guilt. These are the pains before Moshiach, but they are not inevitable. They are to wake us up and bring us together. If we were already there, the pain we now feel, the pain of mothers and fathers and sisters and fiancees and brothers and wives and children, might not have happened.

Maybe this is what G-d intended. Guilt, however crushing, is not the answer.

All we need to do is to remember the pain. Remember how we feel when our nation is attacked. Remember that pain every time you forget the value a single soul has. Remember this pain EVERY TIME you encounter another Jew. Treat them as though the fate of the world, the fate of every human being, rests on how you treat this person.

Because it does.

The clothes make the girl

I was at the park this Shabbat with my little sister. There was another sweet little girl there of about seven years old. She started talking with us, and after a few questions, then asked, “Are you religious?”

“Yes.” I answered. “Why?”

“You look like it.”

It should be mentioned that I was wearing pale lilac sneakers and a subdued floral baseball cap. (It was a park, and quite sunny out, requiring both.) I was also wearing a tunic and ankle-length black skirt in contrast to a more typical short one.* My glasses were neither notably stylish or distinctly plain.

To her, the dress of a religious girl is exactly as it should be– a long skirt, a long sleeves, and a high neckline. Since most of the other girls in the park were goyim in tank tops, she saw me as being dressed exactly as I should, with no need to contrast me to anything. It was really refreshing.

And who knows? Maybe somehow, deep down, she recognised and acknowledged the effort that it had taken me to get to this point. With G-d’s creations, you never know.

—–

*This was said with a disclaimer. If your minhag or community standard is to wear skirts that are totally tznius but not conspicuously long, then kol hakavod. That is tznius for you because it davka doesn’t draw attention and you should got for it.

In my community, most non-Jewish stores sell three types of skirts– really short, really tight, and really long. Far from being attention-getting, they really are the most modest option.

A (great) long day

Due to ‘the ministry required limit for a private daycare’ or something along those lines, my brother’s special needs preschool can take him for half a day five days a week– three times for the morning and two times for the afternoon. Whatever the time, the kid has a ball and my mother gets a much needed break.

Today, just in time to kasher (think spot removal meets sanitize with corrosive chemicals) the kitchen, she got six full hours off.

Why? One of the kids in my brother’s class had already gone on vacation, leaving an ‘extra space.’

The wonderful staff volunteered to host him the extra half day so that he could attend the mock Seder. Beyond amazing!

Triumph-‘tent’

Whoa, that was hard work! I just finished assembling a children’s tent and tunnel. It’s a wonderful way to keep a child busy during the erev Pesach madness.

It also is almost as tall as I am, with a six foot long tunnel and is composed to a mile of stiff fabric and several hundred tubes. As I sweated my way through it I wondered how, if it was giving me so much trouble now, I’d ever done it at 12 or 13? This thing was big enough for an adult to sit inside!*

As I examined my now-metallic hands and rubbed my aching shoulders, the answer came to me. The first few times I’d done it, I almost certainly had my younger brother’s help.

*Although not big enough for them to get out! 🙂 I just managed it myself.